In Stitches: Quilts from the Allentown Art Museum Collection

The Allentown Art Museum presents 34 special quilt treasures from the museum’s extensive textile collection in “In Stitches,” the exhibition now on view in the Kress Gallery. These quilts, which were enthusiastically received by the public in a major quilt exhibition in Tokyo, Japan, earlier this year, represent nearly two centuries of the rich design tradition to be found in American quilts. The quilts, many of which were made in Pennsylvania, carry within their stitches the stories of ordinary women who, without any special training, lovingly used their needlework skills to turn these functional bedcovers into beautiful and intricate works of decorative art that warmed and protected family members at night and gave color and charm to homes in the day. Open through September 5, 2010.

“In Stitches” includes graceful examples of “best” quilts—quilts that would be used for special occasions—from the elegant white on white bedcovers in a style favored in the early 19th-century Neoclassical period to the highly embellished Crazy quilts of later in the century. Other quilts reflect the lifestyle of the rural women who made them, women whose lack of leisure time and money meant they were more likely to form their quilts from scrap bag remnants or inexpensive roller-printed cottons rather than the more costlychintz or silk fabrics used by their more affluent urban counterparts. As these quilts illustrate, however, simplicity was no barrier to the care, passion and creativity that went into the making of even utilitarian “everyday” quilts.

The exhibition also includes a special group of quilts that represent traditional Pennsylvania German aesthetics in color, style and design. Several excellent examples of redwork (a term derived from the red cotton thread used to create the charming and often playful embroidery on these works) and two unusual early 19th-century embroidered blankets round out the exhibition, all underscoring the creativity and skill of these unrecognized—and often anonymous—artists.

Allentown Art Museum • 31 N. Fifth Street • Allentown, PA 18101 610.432.4333

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